I’ve seen some amazing examples of topiary in my time and this ancient art of clipping evergreen plants into intricate shapes continues to fascinate me! If you’re in the area for some Cotswold Tourism do keep a look out for it!
You usually find topiary in formal garden designs but I’ve seen lots of people just having a go in their own garden at home. I’ve seen heaps of designs from teapots to trains to peacocks! But knot gardens and mazes also come under the topiary umbrella. We visited a knot garden recently that a Cotswold Tourist was fascinated by. It contained over 1200 box hedges that was inspired by a dress pattern worn by Elizabeth I.
Boxwood is one of the best materials to use – you’ll see this trained into some incredible shapes such as animals. But you’ll also find yew, privet and even holly. In fact anything that is evergreen and produces dense growth can work to make living art sculptures.
I think what I love so much is that it’s stood the test of time. Topiary has been used in many different European gardening styles, from early Roman gardens through to modern day. Although it looks complicated and time consuming there are ways to cheat! You can buy ready-shaped trees and shrubs from nurseries. All you have to do is keep it trimmed in shape, once or twice (or more, depending on the plant) a year. Alternatively you can buy wire frames which you sit over plants and train through the spaces to create the shape. This is a fab way to make or very detailed pieces such as horses or people.
Topiary is a fantastic addition to your garden because it adds interest all year ’round. In the depths of winter when everything has died back and there isn’t much colour, your topiary will really stand out and grab attention.
We’re fortunate enough to have Hidcote Manor Gardens on our doorstep, so we can incorporate a trip into our Cotswold Tourism day tour if our visitors are interested. The National Trust list Hidcote as having some particularly inspirational examples of topiary, Much of their topiary is birds but you’ll also find other perfectly squared off shapes to add interest and texture.